SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2009, MEXICO CITY – The eighth and final berth at the 2009 IFAF (International Federation of American Football) Junior World Championship has been claimed by Mexico.
The Mexican junior national team defeated Panama 26-0 in front of a noisy 5,000-strong capacity crowd the Estadio Roberto Tapatio Mendez at Ciudad University in Mexico City to become the third and final representative of the Pan-American region to qualify for the inaugural event.
Mexico joins Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States as the eight nations drawn from four continents that will take part in the tournament to be played this summer at Fawcett Stadium at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio from June 27 to July 5. Final seeding and the tournament game schedule will be confirmed shortly.
Mexico raced to a 12-0 first quarter lead and scored four unanswered touchdowns in a convincing 26-0 win. Javier Berny scored on a quarterback keeper on the game’s first drive, but Mexico missed the extra point conversion.
Panama replied by making three first downs on an impressive drive, but was denied an opportunity to halve the Mexico lead when a 43-yard field goal was blocked. The physically bigger Mexico team took full advantage on its second offensive possession, increasing the lead to 12 points with a 45-yard touchdown run from Edgar Jesus Arroyo. Mexico’s two-point conversion attempt failed.
Panama went three and out in reply before Berny found receiver Sergio Gonzalez for a 30-yard gain to the visitors‘ six-yard mark, but Mexico was then moved back 30 yards by penalties. Despite being forced to retreat, David Alexis Paz took a screen pass 36 yards for a third Mexico visit to the end zone and a commanding 18-point advantage following another missed extra point.
Panama squandered a golden opportunity to cut the deficit when a dropped pass near the Mexican goal line denied them a chance to put six points on the board. When Erick Sedano came in at quarterback for Mexico, he was intercepted by Panama defensive back Maidir Miller close to midfield. Panama was again unable to take advantage and after the teams exchanged punts, Mexico led 18-0 at halftime.
Panama struggled to move the ball on the first drive of the third quarter, but the visitors‘ defense kept them in contention with a blocked field goal as Mexico attempted to tag on three more points from 30 yards out. Both defenses were on top in a scoreless third quarter and Panama gained some momentum with a sack at their own 43-yard mark to muster a late comeback.
Any hopes of a Panamanian revival ended when Mexico cornerback Sebastian Miranda came up with an interception as Panama drove into the red zone and returned the ball 85 yards for a touchdown and a 24-0 lead with 5.52 remaining in the game. David Ramirez hit Augustin Octavio Aguirre Colorado on the two-point pass attempt to open an unassailable 26-point margin.
Mexico produced two more interceptions, returning one to the end zone only to have the play called back for an infraction, but the result was already beyond doubt.
Mexico was represented by players from 17 teams or schools: Aguilas Blancas, Borregos Mexicali, Bucaneros, Buhos Patts, Cherokees, Cheyenes Culhuacan, Cheyenes I.P.N., Frailes, Gamos Cum, I.T.E.S.M. Campus Cd. de México, I.T.E.S.M. Campus Sta. Fe, I.T.E.S.M. Campus Toluca, Pieles Rojas, Politos, Redskins, Tigres CCH and U.V.M Guadalajara. The Panama roster consisted of players from four major teams within its borders, the Falcons, Jaguars, Panthers and Stallions.
2009 IFAF Junior World Championship Qualifiers:
PAFAF (Pan-American Federation of American Football): USA, Canada and Mexico
EFAF (European Federation of American Football): Germany, Sweden and France
AFAF (Asian Federation of American Football): Japan
OFAF (Oceania Federation of American Football): New Zealand